1968 was a year that left Americans in pain. Everything about the country was changing, people were rioting in the streets, students were organizing to change the democratic party, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, Lyndon Johnson had announced he would not run for president, and Robert Kennedy was assassinated. People were downright angry, they were angry that young men were still dying in Vietnam and they were angry that Martin Luther King had been killed at the hands of a racist. The people felt that the American dream was lost.
Students organized for a change in the democratic party, they changed the way that candidates ran for president. Students from New Hampshire created a map in which people could go door to door asking Democrats and independents to vote for McCarthy. McCarthy, in my opinion, was a surprising choice. He is shy and quiet, and he really didn’t even seem like he wanted the presidency. I guess that is what the students of the New Democratic movement wanted. They didn’t want someone who would tell them what to do they were looking for someone who would trust them. The students wanted someone who would look to them to make decisions. McCarthy had an attitude that he was doing everyone a favor by running for president and the students should thank him for letting them use his name. The students were looking for a name to push their agenda, they wanted the war in Vietnam to end. They were tired of Johnson pushing further and further into the war and they wanted change. They wanted their friends who were there doing the fighting to come home. The students really believed that America could be great if it made some major changes. They believed in democracy and had faith that with McCarthy the troops would come home, and change could be made.
Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4th, 1968. That day changed the civil rights movement in a drastic way. Now that the champion of nonviolence had died violently people turned to violence. “The assassin’s bullet not only Killed Dr. King, it killed a period of history. It killed Hope, and it killed a dream.” (B&B, 381) The assassination of Dr. King by a white American meant that any hope of change through peaceful nonviolent actions was no longer possible. It was clear that the only way that black Americans could ever get the fair and equal treatment they deserve was through violent means. Black Americans had to fight violence with violence. In a way, many black Americans thought that the dream of peaceful liberation had been gone for a long time, but King’s assassination proved that.
In conclusion, 1968 meant a new wave of anger in the US. Young people were angry that Johnson’s war in Vietnam was still seeing American casualties. Black Americans were angry and full of grief from the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. All of this anger led to change, students created a new democratic party and put faith into a leader who would listen to them. African Americans saw that nonviolence was not working and that in order to see real change they had to fight violence with violence. 1968 left the United States very divided.